Nation-Building

"We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that's what this election is about." -- Barack Obama, DNC keynote address, July 2004

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

 

Texas Tuesdays: Jake Gilbreath http://www.texastuesdays.com/

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 29, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
via Charles, the first of the Texas State House candidates is being profiled at Texas Tuesdays this week - Jake Gilbreath, a student at George Washington University. Click over and check it out!

Monday, June 28, 2004

 

JoeTrippi.com http://www.joetrippi.com/

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, June 28, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Looks like Change For America will be shuttering down in favor of the new Joe Trippi.com site, which currently features some excerpts from Trippi's new book (to be released July 6th). I've asked Joe for a review copy, if he sends me one I will review the book here. In the meantime, JT.com will probably be similar to a Scoop-style site with user diaries and moderation, and they will likely transition to that site in the next few days.

The introduction to JT's book is online, and has a fairly powerful anecdote of a meeting between the campaign staff and HD about the decision to seal his gubernatorial records. Excerpt:

“You’ve got to release the records, Governor.”

His eyes are set, and his open face is pulled back defensively into that tree-trunk neck. “But there’s nothing in there.”

“If there’s nothing in there, then we should release them.”

“But there’s nothing in there.”

“That’s why we have to release them.”

“But why should we release them when there’s nothing in there?”

We go around in circles like this until Governor Dean—whose running mate could have been stubbornness—ends the debate by saying he’s done talking about it. “I would rather withdraw from the race than release those records.

We’re all quiet. The frontrunner in the 2003 Democratic presidential campaign is threatening to quit, while he still has the lead. The meeting ends, Governor Dean nods in my direction and chokes out the words, “Follow me, Joe.”

I try to keep up, but he’s striding down the hallway toward my office, and I’m straggling fifteen feet behind him, reassuring staffers as I move down the hall.

My office is in the corner of the third floor, a long narrow gash of a room—a crash site of paper, CD cases, and empty Diet Pepsi cans. Howard Dean is standing against the wall, his back to me. He’s shaking.

“You made this too easy,” he manages to say.

“What?” I ask.

“This. I never thought it would go this far. I was going to raise my profile, raise health care as an issue, shake up the Democratic Party. Help change the country. But I never thought this would happen. Don’t you understand?” He turns and faces me. “I never thought I could actually win. I wanted to . . . but I never really thought it could happen.”


I'd heard that anecdote before, and I suppose it's a mark of how deepy I have drunk the ABB kool-aid that in retrospect, I can't imagine how the Dean campaign would have survived the general election season, for precisely this problem - Dean is just too blunt, too real. Kerry isn't going to be as easy to distort. I think that Trippi's point, that though the candidate lost, the campaign actually won, is valid here - it's our success and our passion for Dean that have given Kerry the strength to do what perhaps our candidate ultimately wouldn't be able to.

It's impossible to say whether Trippi admits to any role in the failure of the campaign to react and adapt or whether it really is everyone else's fault - but I hope to read his book and see for myself what his side of the story is.

CORRECTION: Mordecai lets us know that CFA will remain as a community political site. I know I've been hard on CFA in the past as an organization, but let me state for the record that the CFA bloggers have been doing a great and underappreciated job. Rather than just Drymala posting about "change! real soon now...", its become a soli team effort. Check them out if you haven't in some time...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

 

Nader's Nadir http://www.mydd.com/story/2004/6/26/182718/444

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, June 27, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Jerome Armstrong declares Nader toast:

It is over for Nader. I will personally be stunned if he makes the ballot in twelve states. He does not have the money for a limited national advertising drive like he had in 2000. There will be no Nader "super-rallies" like in 2000, where he regularly drew crowds exceeding 10,000 people. He has no party support. He has nothing.

From now on, no poll that includes Nader should be taken seriously. Libertarian + Constitution now probably poses a larger threat to Bush than Nader + Cobb poses for Kerry. It is time for everyone in the Democratic Blogosphere to relax their sphincters and allow their blood pressure to drop. It is time we started paying Nader the attention he deserves in this campaign--none. To continue complaining about him would border on mental illness.


Head over to myDD by clicking the link above to read why (I won't spoil the delicious details for you here).

And good for the Green party, who are finally free of the self-destructive taint of association with Crazy Ralph. The Green party, as has been noted elsewhere, often does very well in electing lower-office officials who are principled and fight for progressive causes on principle. The Greens have a role to play in our politics and can do the most good at the state and local levels. I should really considering kicking some money their way...

 

if Gephardt gets picked as VP,

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, June 27, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
then I'm staying home on election day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

 

the first Black President http://www2.obamaforillinois.com/television/YesBUO0401_windowsmedia.wmv

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, June 23, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
check out this Obama for Illinois campaign ad, and tell me if you don't agree that you're seeing the future First Black President of the United States.

However, Obama faces some difficult challenges ahead, in triangulating between the demands of his base and the broader Democratic electorate. The Black Commentator magazine has a provocative piece that asks whether Obama will fall to the influence of the DLC and Al From - whom we Deaniacs know to have been instrumental in derailing the populist message of the Dean campaign.

Note that Obama was among the first Dean Dozen endorsed by Democracy for America - and that Dean himself has pledged to campaign for Obama in Illinois. The New Democrat Network also has Obama on it's watch list of rising stars.

However, the best prognostic indcator of where Obama stands is in comparison to another modern-day Illinois politician - Paul Simon. Simon was beloved across the aisle, a populist liberal with a libertarian streak - and a fiscal conservative. Obama himself has stated that he follows the Paul Simon mold, on which I think we Howard Dean fans find familiar.

As the BC article notes, there are many voices whispering in Barack Obama's ear right now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

 

Howard Dean on Randi Rhodes NOW http://airamericaradio.com/pub/globalDefault.htm

posted by annatopia at Tuesday, June 22, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Randi Rhodes is interviewing Howard beginning right now. Tune in via the above link.

 

Texas Tuesdays: State House races http://www.texastuesdays.com/archives/000038.html

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 22, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
The Texas Democratic convention has wrapped up in Houston - check out Texas Tuesdays for highlights on some of the State House races that are in play.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

 

Kerry vacation scandal! http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20040620/ap_on_el_pr/kerry

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, June 20, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Nedra Pickler does it again - I actually found myself laughing out loud:

Kerry is a rich man who promotes the Democratic ideal that government should do more to help the poor. He moves between both worlds, spending the past week traveling to downtrodden places like South-side Columbus, Ohio, and the affluent island playground of Nantucket.

Not since President Kennedy have Democrats been prepared to nominate a man of such riches.
[...]
Like Kerry, President Bush is a Yale graduate who has benefited from his wealth and family connections. But Bush spends his down time as more of an everyman, preferring to spend vacations at his Texas ranch clearing brush.

"Most Americans don't sit in Martha's Vineyard, swilling white wine," he said at the ranch two years ago.


I'm in awe of this woman's Hackdom. I could fisk this, but what's the point, really? The AP should be outraged.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

 

Texas Bloggers meet Richard Morrison http://www.texastuesdays.com/archives/000037.html

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, June 19, 2004 permalink 3 comments View blog reactions
On the sidebar at left, Dean Nation has a new endorsement - Richard Morrison is the guy taking on Tom Delay in TXCD-22. Myself and a bunch of fellow bloggers (in Houston for the Democratic convention) got to met Morrison at a local coffee shop. Byron has a full report of the interview with Mr. Morrison at BOR.

Keep an eye on Texas Tuesdays - big things planned!

 

Gary Hart for SecHomeDef http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=7834

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, June 19, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
If there's one thing that the entire liberal blogsphere should agree on, it is that Gary Hart needs to be in the Cabinet as Secretary of Homeland Defense. His recent interview at The American Prospect is essential reading, where he lays out broad and muscular principles for applying all forms of American power, hard and soft, to both foreign policy and honeland defense. Excerpt:


What is the message of your book?

From the end of the Cold War until the terrorist attacks of 2001, America did not have a grand strategy. We did not take the time to define our purpose in our world. To rectify that, I propose that we strive toward three goals: achieve security, expand opportunity to ourselves and others, and promote liberal democracy. We have abundant power to achieve these aims. We have the largest economy, and we are a political and military power. In addition, America has a fourth power, which are its principles, including, of course, free press, freedom of assembly, human right, and rule of law. When we support a government that doesn't believe in those things, we are weakening ourselves. We did that during the Cold War. We should not do that in the war on terrorism.

Even Jimmy Carter, who believed strongly in human rights, aligned himself with unsavory characters.


It’s hard. We could become more European and say: "The world is a messy place. We understand. We'll have to get ourselves messy. We make no grand claims for being superior." But America does claim to be superior. And, like an individual, if you violate your own principles to achieve an objective, you should question the objective. It's probably wrong.

You're critical of an ad hoc approach to foreign policy. But why can't you just deal with a crisis in, say, Somalia as it comes up?

Well, that was basically the Clinton approach. Madeleine Albright -- or Sandy Berger -- said, "We don’t have a strategy; we deal with issues as they arise." The problem is the world surprises you. Having this kind of approach is like an individual who says: "I don’t know what my purpose is in life. I'm going to get up in the morning and see what happens."

Friday, June 18, 2004

 

Veep and Cabinet http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/6/18/1170/46093

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, June 18, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Absolutely brilliant thread at Kos hashing out the Veepstakes. I share Kos' disquiet at the fact that none of the contenders are non-white non-males, but this seems to be the hand we are dealt. Keeping in mind that the soonest Kerry will announce a VP is at least a week or two after June 30th's handover in Iraq, so the media oxygen has refreshed, this is all hypothetical, but here's my current leanings:

VP - John Edwards. Edwards came through the primaries with almost no mud clinging, media-invented or otherwise. The discussion on Gephardt recently has pointed towards the Labor support, but that's largely illusory. Rockefeller has also been proposed because he would help deliver West virginia, but I don't think two patricians on the ticket will be tenable, it's just too "old guard". Edwards, in addition to delivering South Carolina, brings true life to the party - he has a real knack for the populist appeal and can reach out to disaffected voters in ways that Kerry cannot. Edwards is yound, he is articulate, and he speaks directly to you, not at you - and he would represent a real personification of the Future for the party and the Nation. We need to be forward-looking, and present to America a glimpse of where we want to go - not where we have been.

Homeland Security - Gary Hart. There is no other choice, absolutely none.

Secretary of State - Bill Clinton. Bring back the Big Dog.

Secretary of Defense - Joe Biden. We need a principled hawk.

Secretary of Labor - Gephardt, of course.

I'm pretty soft on all of this so I'm eager to hear your own rationales...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

 

the center of mass

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, June 17, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Robert had a great capsule history of the great drift in American politics that I think bears wider audience:

In 1964 the Goldwater faction bullied their agenda and won the presidential nomination Barry and away from Rockefeller. They didn't even want Nelson to be on the ticket as VP.

After how shabbily he was treated, Rockefeller withdrew from politics altogether.

That '64 convention was the start of the conservative revolution.

But Goldwater today would be considered far too liberal for the hard-core right.

Dean is really a fiscal conservative and social progressive in the mold of Rockefeller.(in 1964)


The problem with most conservatives is that they define anyone who is socially liberal as "Leftist" - ignoring the fact that those positions have essentially become mainstream. The center of mass in the social sense has moved left, whereas the political debate has shifted right (as Robert ably explains above). The resulting disconnect has left a lot of people out in the cold, ie reduced voter participation. Why? because only the people who were to the right end of the social spectrum still remain represented by the political debate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

 

Zogby poll about Kerry/Dean ticket http://interactive.zogby.com/pollregistration/registration/

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, June 16, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
(registration required) - let's do our part :) Some of you mistook my earlier argument against Dean as VP as an endorsement of McCain - let me assuage that by saying hell no. And while I don't think Dean would would help Kerry win were he on the ticket, I do have a vested interest in seeing Dean's views influence the platform. In that sense, I endorse polls like this because they help keep pressure on Kerry. So go forth and rock this poll!

UPDATE: the inevitable Draft Dean site has sprung up. They are asking for money to promote the cause, but IMHO mine is better spent on supporting the Dean Dozen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

 

Dean for VP? I disagree http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/06/15/how_about_howard?mode=PF

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 15, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
A pointed opinion piece in the Boston Globe asks the obvious question, if Kerry can consider McCain for VP, then why not Howard Dean?

News accounts of Kerry's overtures and McCain's ultimate rebuff focus on the tempting idea of a bipartisan ticket that could reach across the vituperative divide in American politics. But Kerry would also benefit from the edgy energy and tell-it-like-it-is approach politicians like McCain and Dean exemplify. Settling for the handsome but bland optimism of North Carolina Senator John Edwards makes safe political sense. But it also shows the limits of tolerance for spark, verve, and controversy when Democrats think about selling fellow Democrats to voters or when Republicans think of selling fellow Republicans like McCain to voters.
[...]
the provocative Republican was Kerry's first choice for vice president; a provocative Democrat who brought heart, soul, and an energized base to his party's primaries is on the sidelines. Dean had the courage to call Bush on Iraq, the Patriot Act, and No Child Left Behind. The former Vermont governor's passionate rhetoric forced Kerry to challenge these cornerstones of Bush administration policy, which Kerry previously supported with votes in the US Senate.

"You could hear my lines in their speeches." Dean told the AP in a recent interview reflecting on his amazing rise and fall in presidential politics. The rhetorical theft began after his opponents realized the potency of those spoken lines and their ability to galvanize liberal Democrats and indepent voters. Dean wanted to "Take Back America" long before Kerry understood how many voters feel that way, too. By telling audiences "you have the power," he linked voting to change, the first step in taking back the White House. All the anti-Bush sentiment is meaningless if Bush opponents don't take the next step -- actually voting.
[...]
A June 8-9 national poll taken by Opinion Dynamcs Corp. for Fox News provides food for thought regarding a Kerry-Dean ticket. Overall, a Kerry-Dean ticket garnered support from 45 percent compared with 44 percent for Bush-Cheney. In the so-called battleground states, Kerry-Dean beat Bush-Cheney 48-42. The poll defines battleground states as: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The old conventional wisdom about a vice presidential candidate concludes that the best pick is the one who can deliver the electoral votes of his or her home state on Election Day. That is what keeps names like retiring Missouri congressman Richard Gephardt and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack in the mix. Neither excites, and one is virtually unknown beyond the corn belt. Dean's constituency is bigger than a single state. It's a movement synonymous with change and excitement.


These are good questions, but they have a good answer. The truth is that Dean's message himself was about transcending the divide of left-right, liberal-conservative, us-them. McCain on the ticket would represent a true bipartisanship in that mold, and the polls refloect this - the paltry 1-percentage advantage of a Kerry-Dean tickey over Bush-Cheney in a (meaningless) national poll pales next to the double-digit advantage that Kerry-McCain boasts of.

Like it or not, Dean was marginalized as a leftist during the primary, and now has embraced the lefft in his post-candidacy. The overall theme of DFA v2.0 is to support explicitly progressive, not moderate, candidates - including flawed ones like scandal-ridden Jim Moran who damage the cause of principled politics rather than advance it. It is inexcusable that Moran be supported, because it damages the claim that Dean is a principled advocate rather than an ideolouge - candidates who do not meet a certain ethical standard should be rejected on principle, not embraced because they have a (D) next to their name.

Partly due to the media crusade against him, and partly validated by his opwn post-candidacy choices, Dean does not represent a voice of moderation, let alone one of bipartisanship, to the average voter in the electorate at large. Dean's constituency is largely in the Kerry camp already, and the few die-hards ideological puritans who reject Kerry are going Nader (or staying home in a fit of pique). There is little evidence to support the claim that Dean could attract moderates in swing states to any large degree.

Overall, Dean's best role is to do what he is doing - encouraging democracy at the lowest level - the Dean Dozen programs that focus on building a true grassroots movement from the ground up, at the state and local levels. Democracy for America is a much-needed counterbalance to the post-Goldwater conservative grassroots movement. But that is strictly aimed at the base, whereas for the Chief Executive (and the Executive Branch as a whole) we need a more unifying figure. Dean can't bring about his vision of a true American Majority any longer, though he laid the essential framework (and I view the adoption of his talking points into Kerry's rhetoric as an explicit marker of success, not "rhetorical theft").

Dean's legacy now is to raise the roots - and that is going to take time. In the meantime, we have a corrupt Administration to defeat, and a re-unification of the political dialog about ideas (as Bill Clinton noted below).

 

Excerpt from Gov. Dean's web chat http://www.democracyforamerica.com/features/2004/06/09/web_chat_with_governor_dean_6904.php

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 15, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
the single most important question asked, and its answer:

MRT for Dean:Melissa: Gov. Dean--please help us rally behind Kerry. Many of us have worked hard in local campaigns (me for Richard Morrison) but I personally can't bear to wear a Kerry shirt. Others have expressed the same reluctance. What could you say to motivate us?

Moderator/Gov. Dean: Think of it this way - which candidate will be better for American's environment? Bush or Kerry? Which candidate has a better record on balancing the budget? Bush or Kerry? Which candidate has universal health care as part of their platform? Bush or Kerry? Which candidates has early childhood education in their platform? Bush or Kerry?

Rallying behind Kerry is a no brainer for me.

Monday, June 14, 2004

 

I choose not to be a cynic http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40670-2004Jun14.html

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, June 14, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
President Bush, on President Clinton:

The years have done a lot to clarify the strengths of this man. As a candidate for any office, whether it be the state attorney general or the president, Bill Clinton showed incredible energy and great personal appeal.As chief executive, he showed a deep and far- ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit that Americans like in a president. Bill Clinton could always see a better day ahead and Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer.


President Clinton:

This is a great country. Politics is noble work.I've just been doing some interviews in connection with my book, and I told Mr. Ryder (ph) yesterday, I said, "You know, Most the people I've known in this business, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, were good people, honest people, and they did what they thought was right. And I hope that I'll live long enough to see American politics return to vigorous debates where we argue who's right and wrong, not who's good and bad.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

 

AP interview with Howard Dean http://www.blogforamerica.com/archives/004616.html#more

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, June 12, 2004 permalink 1 comments View blog reactions
Joe Rospars has posted some excerpts from a recent interview with Howard Dean - great reading, head over to the o-blog and check it out ...

Friday, June 11, 2004

 

I have a dream

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, June 11, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Frequent (conservative) commentator Joe remarked below:

It's insane that Dean, who really embodied not only change, but honesty and conviction, can't get elected because people won't vote for something different.
It's sad.


thats really the crux. What choices are there? The polarization of the public "debate" is akin to screaming howler monkeys throwing crap at each other. Dean oferred a third Way where unity was paramount - a new American majority, not just liberal or conservative (labels whose obsolescence is long overdue). Yet with his moving off to obscurity, the same trends arise - we have lefties here adamantly opposed to supporting ANY Republican, and the occassional righty like Joe who expliciitly stated that he cannot even grant a modicum of respect to the motives of the liberals. What unity? Why shouldn't people just vote status quo in such an atmossphere?

I want to see a "Dean Nation" where left and right can contribute to a real debate and actually have real respect. But I dont see it anywhere. Since I'm libveral, outreach means going to the Right - but I routinely find that there's no hand outstretched to greet me in return. I have opened myself to conservative ideas and they have profoundly affected my positions - I do not toe the liberal line by any means. But even the most "reasonable" conservative such as Tacitus or Drezner or others still persist in rote demonization of the "Left" and still subscribe to the conservative polemics that are obstructing real progress.

The Right continually makes moral judgements against those who disagree - and the Left continually makes ideological purity their litmus test. Both are damaging and frankly I see no room for moderates left.

I had a dream that after the Dean campaign ended I could create a place where such considerations could thrive. One look at the Zonkboard suggests it is hopeless however, full of liberal frustration and bile as it is with the outnumbered token conservatives happy to respond in kind. But Dean Nation CAN exist - and I am ready to create it if it needs a different medium. But what? Scoop? Forum? Blog? Mailing list? I don't know. And unless I can find a reason for this blog to exist, or at least entice my fellow teammates to contribute, I don't know if it even should.

UPDATE: I haven't decided what to do yet, but a lot of that decision will hinge on what you, my community, thinks. Here's a quick poll to gauge how attached we are to these blogspot digs and what fraction of us are willing to embrace the hassle of going somewhere else.







Thursday, June 10, 2004

 

Desperation http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_06_06.php#003055

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, June 10, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
President Bush's campaign staffers believe that pushing their own guy isn't a particularly good political strategy and that bashing Kerry or grasping on to Reagan nostalgia is far preferable?

Now to a related point. I've got a number of notes from people (few of them Bush supporters in the first case, of course) who are outraged by the Bush campaign's unabashed exploitation of Reagan's passing as part of their reelection campaign effort --- the morphing of the Bush website into the Reagan tribute website being a key example.

Yes, it's crass and cynical. But it's also a tad desperate.


Josh Marshall's analysis here is quite cogent - Bush's problem is that he is a weak leader. There's simply nothing that his supporters can point to to make a case to the undecided moderate - it's a purely base-driven campaign, to whom adoring photos of Bush with halos around his head and Reagan-worship are simply red meat.

Case in point - allowing his foreign policy to be dictated by the very group of advisors who Reagan was wise enough to ignore. The neo-conservatives are now licking the wounds, having had their agenda nearly completely discredited:

Fourteen months ago, Kenneth Adelman was one of the prominent neoconservatives who took part in a now-storied victory celebration at the home of Vice President Dick Cheney that was described in Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack."

Since then, Adelman acknowledged, the group's influence has declined, because "Iraq didn't turn out to be as promising as it was billed."

Adelman, a former Reagan administration official, said that although he supported the rationale for the war, he was torn about what had happened since. "I still have to sort it all out. I'm just not settled yet," he said.

...."Bush could end up looking like the worst president since Jimmy Carter because of Iraq, and people are going to say, 'You got us into this mess,' " said one Washington source who considered himself a neoconservative and spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It's going to be nasty and bitter and brutal."


You almost have to feel sorry for Bush - a weak leader who bought into the plans and promises of these zealots - and when it all fell apart, is blamed by them for the failure of those policies. Well, Bush deserves blame, because the buck stops there (and Reagan was wise enough to steer clear - a fact to his immense credit that isn't mentioned on the Bush campaign website-shrine-diversion).

Bush is bleeding away any moderate support, leaving him only with his base. They alone cannot win him re-election.

Monday, June 07, 2004

 

a look under the hood of DFA http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0,,SB108655747737429973,00.html?mod=todays%5Ffree%5Ffeature

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, June 07, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
hat tip to Barb for this interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about Dean's continued activity as an "almost candidate". The article says that Dean has studied the lessons of the right in order to formulate tactics for the left:

The feisty former Vermont governor, determined not to be a fringe player, is boning up on the political right for guidance on how to better organize the left -- not just for November's elections but beyond. He is studying the tactics used by Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and Ralph Reed, who helped make the Christian Coalition a political power. A decade after Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Reed, now a private consultant and adviser to President George W. Bush's campaign, helped usher in an era of Republican power, Mr. Dean hopes to begin to shift the balance back toward his progressive agenda.

"Those people were very organized, they were very methodical about what they did," he says. If history is amused by the ironies, Mr. Dean believes it soon will have to sit up and take notice.


The focus on the Progressive agenda is fine, but not exactly what I had anticipated. Basically Dean is focusing on making the Progressive base more active, especially by drawing in youth (for example through the Music for America side-project). The idea is to match the energy on the right by getting out the liberal vote.

To be honest, I think that the left is already motivated by the excesses of the Bush Administration. Turnout among the base is not as key a concern IMHO as focusing on two goals - the short term, focusing on swing state undecided voters, and the long term, healing the polarized political divide.

In essence, Dean isn't going for the vision of a True American Majority, he is going for a numbers game advantage in the same old Us Vs Them game that politics in America has devolved to. To some extent that is critical, because it's the only way we can boot Bush - but I want to see some hint of a more visionary solution than just out-muscling the extremists.

Still, I can't discount the neccessity of what Dean is doing right now - especially in light of two other threats - Nader appeal and Kerry fatigue:

Certainly, Mr. Dean's free-spirited independence makes him an asset as Mr. Kerry tries to fend off defections to third party candidate Ralph Nader. As a trained doctor, Mr. Dean is working with old labor allies to promote health-care proposals at the heart of Mr. Kerry's domestic agenda.

Like no one else, perhaps, Mr. Dean is crucial if Mr. Kerry is to achieve his goal of greatly expanding the turnout among younger voters, who have swung against the Iraq war and remain worried by the lack of economic opportunity at home.

It won't be easy. "My constituency is divided on John Kerry," Mr. Dean acknowledges in an interview. Among young people, he says, the task is harder now that he no longer is a candidate, and the challenge is to keep alive that sense of community and civic involvement his campaign bred among otherwise disaffected voters.


Perhaps I just have to curb my idealism until after November 2004. Right now, there's only one goal: ABB.

I should also note that Dean's determination to court such tainted figures as Jim Moran might help the short term goal, but will surely damage the long term one. That choice is real cause for disappointment in Howard.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

 

President Reagan dies at age 93 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A18329-2004Jun5?language=printer

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, June 05, 2004 permalink 6 comments View blog reactions
Rest in peace. He deserves kudos for his role in bringing about the fall of Communism and for being a leader that actually did unite our nation rather than the division that GOP candidates have sown since. His foreign and fiscal policies would be welcome by liberals today, in comparison to the extremism of the present Administration. But if his greatest legacy is that his example furthers the cause of research into Alzheimer's disease, with stem-cell technology, against the policy of the present Administration and the right-wing zealots who have dominated the GOP, then that will be a far greater acclaim than any other judgement history may provide.

UPDATE: If you read one speech by Reagan, make it two. The speech after the Challenger, and the speech where he dared Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."

beware the GOP attempts at revisionist history. Much of Reagan's success as President owed to some of his decidely non-conservative policies:

Reagan is, to be sure, one of the most conservative presidents in U.S. history and will certainly be remembered as such. His record on the environment, defense, and economic policy is very much in line with its portrayal. But he entered office as an ideologue who promised a conservative revolution, vowing to slash the size of government, radically scale back entitlements, and deploy the powers of the presidency in pursuit of socially and culturally conservative goals. That he essentially failed in this mission hasn't stopped partisan biographers from pretending otherwise. (Noonan writes of his 1980 campaign pledges: "Done, done, done, done, done, done, and done. Every bit of it.")

A sober review of Reagan's presidency doesn't yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. His assault on entitlements never materialized; instead he saved Social Security in 1983. And he repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised.
All of this has been airbrushed from the new literature of Reagan.


UPDATE: an excellent point which is also in danger of being papered over by modern GOP revisionists as an inconvenient fact, even though it is actually critical and profound:

So tonight, as we live in a world where the danger of nuclear war is much lower than it was in 1985, when Reagan and Gorbachev first met, let us praise Reagan for ignoring the advice of those who said bargaining with Gorbachev would endanger the safety of the free world, especially then-Defense Department official Richard Perle and then-Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney.


UPDATE: Kerry's statement on the death of Ronald Reagan. It's a noble gesture of respect which all Democrats would be wise to heed.

 

the problem with IRV http://electionmethods.org/IRVproblems.htm

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, June 05, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
I've discussed the problems with Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) before, but here's a nice article on the subject. Key graf:

This is the fundamental problem with IRV. The only preference that is sure to be counted is my first choice. The problem gets worse as the number of candidates increases. The outcome of the election can depend in a very quirky way on the order in which candidates are eliminated for having the fewest top-choice votes. The only way a voter can be assured of not wasting his or her vote is to rank one of the two major parties as their first choice, which is precisely what happens now under plurality voting.


Read the whole article for the rigorous mechanics of why this is so.

I also have a fundamental philosophical problem with IRV, in that it would encourage too many small political parties. I do want to see at least one or two healthy alternates to the GOP and the Democrats available to put pressure on the main parties and also serve as an outlet for the fringe, but overall the hyper-fragmentation effect of numerous political parties has been a big drain on countries that suffer it - notably Israel and the UK, where fringe parties exert undue influence on mainstream policy. A good example is the settler movement in Israel - they suck billions away from the public sector and are a net drain on Israel's economy (not to mention the security nightmare). Our current plurality system helps modulate the effect of teh fringe in a way that I think is wise.

UPDATE: Steven den Beste had a good essay on the latter rationale against IRV, which is worth reading:

The idea is that fringe or extreme political viewpoints cannot significantly influence the system through local dominance in a small area or by having a small number of followers spread around everywhere. It's structural, and what it means is that we are relatively less vulnerable to extreme political opinions. Which means we can tolerate them. We can tolerate wide expression of extremely strange, even vile, political positions because they won't make much difference until they are supported by a significant proportion of the electorate nationwide, and generally the weirdest ones will have no chance of ever doing that.

 

Why I cannot hate George W. Bush http://dean2004.blogspot.com/2004/05/why-i-cannot-hate-george-w-bush.html

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, June 05, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
By request from Joe on the Zonkboard, here's a link to my entry on UNMEDIA discussing why I do not hate George W. Bush. I do, however, think that Bush has been possibly teh worst president since McKinney and easily the most damaging to the national security of this nation, and that he is grossly unqualified to hold office. The legacy of the Bush Administration will be a millstone borne around the neck of future generations and administrations, Republican and Democrat alike. George W. Bush is a poor leader, a weak leader, and a failed leader, whose single most compelling argument for being elected - being a uniter, not a divider - has been grotesquely Bizzarro-esque. And while I do not hate George W. Bush, I am deeply angry with him for failing to live up to the promise and my expectations of him during that short period of time after 9-11 when he really was a rallying figure for all of us, and we the People granted him enormous political capital hoping that he would use it wisely. INstead he has trown sop after sop to eth extremists domestically and surrendered all control of foreign policy to an untested group of ideolouges. I don't even disagree with some of the larger aims of the foreign policy as stated, but in their implementation has been revealed an incompetence that in the post-9-11 world is utterly unforgivable.

I do not hate George W. Bush, who I think is a fine human being and a decent man. But he is the worst leader this country could have had at the critical moment of history when we needed a great one. His place in history is indeed secure.

Friday, June 04, 2004

 

Support Barack Obama http://www2.obamaforillinois.com/contribute

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, June 04, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Over at Daily Kos, there's some discussion about whether Obama Barack needs help to win. Kos is trying to choose two of the "dKos 8" to officially endorse and many of the commentors think that Obama doesn't need any extra push since he has the election "in the bag".

I think that's wrong, and I want to make a special plea to all of us Deaniacs to contribute money to Obama's campaign.

Barack Obama is the son of a Kenyan economist, a principled lawyer who rejected a cushy partnership in order to work the underpaid civil rights beat, and a dedicated public servant. It may shock you to realize this, but if he becomes the Senator from Illinois he will be the sole black Senator. This isn't about a quota but rather a case of a supremely qualified man who deserves to win, far more than his super-funded Republican businessman opponent, because Obama will work for the betterment of the State of Illinois and a truly progressive national agenda.

Read Obama's personal statement at Daily Kos, and this biography at his campaign website, and learn more about him.

And then, please donate money to his campaign, because of all seats at stake, this one is one of the most important for real change and also the most symbolic. Like Senator Paul Simon before him, a beloved figure of Illinois politics by Democrats and Republicans alike, Obama has the potential to be a true reach-across-the-aisle builder of unity, in the true Dean Nation tradition of being for America as a whole, not just blue or red state divisions.

Illinois is my home state, where I was born. It is a noble land with a history of great statesmen leading the nation - both in the Senate and the Oval Office. Obama is the heir to that tradition and deserves our support.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

 

North by Northwest http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/05/26/politics/main619707.shtml

posted by Dana at Wednesday, June 02, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
I spent last night fretting over the South Dakota House race, while in the next room my teen-age daughter got educated in movie history by watching "North by Northwest" (another South Dakota cliffhanger).

Herseth-Diedrich was also a cliff-hanger, but we won. Because the story wasn't covered extensively by the national press (and even the official Democratic blog went to bed before the counting started) I got a lot of my insight from Daily Kos.

Here is some of what I learned:

What did you learn?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

 

save Yglesias http://www.matthewyglesias.com/archives/week_2004_05_30.html#003464

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 01, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Matthew Yglesias was unfairly harassed by The Man on Memorial Day. Read all about it - and don't miss the funniest comment thread since Bush was selected. Damn these big-government conservatives! (if only the Libertarian party wasn't so lame...)

 

Drop Moran

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 01, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
If DFA is going to ever achieve its goals of promoting small-d democracy, it needs to be absolutely free of any taint. That means that candidates that Dean campaigns for also need to pass a rigorous standard, because any controversy will undermine not just DFA by association but will also apill over to other candidates like the Dean Dozens. The support of DFA on your resume needs to be a strong asset, not a talking point liability.

That's why Dean's campaigning activities for Jim Moran need to end. Dean will be a guest at a fund-raising breakfast for Moran on June 4th.

Why is Jim Moran a problem? Ben Domenech has a wealth of links - all stories from the Washington Post - about Moran's various foolish statements of persecution by Jews:

In comments likely to prolong controversy over Moran's views toward Israel and U.S. Jewish groups and constituents, the seven-term incumbent said the American Israel Public Action Committee (AIPAC) has begun organizing against him and will "direct a campaign against me and take over the campaign of a Democratic opponent," according to notes taken by a person in attendance and corroborated by three others.

AIPAC spokeswoman Rebecca Dinar called Moran's comments "ridiculous" and said the organization "had no idea" what the congressman was talking about. AIPAC, an influential and prominent Washington-based lobby, is not a political action committee, by law cannot raise money for candidates and by policy does not endorse candidates, Dinar said.


Look, if a conservative politician were to say that "the NAACP has begun organizing against me and will direct a campaign against me" they would be at equal risk of being called a racist as Moran is now being called an anti-semite. Moran did NOT say "The Jews are pulling the strings" (though I haven't dug far enough into Domenech's links yet...) but in terms of strategic campaigning, blaming any Jews for your campaign travails is pretty boneheaded. I'm not going to go as far as Domenech or Tacitus in self-righteous denunciation of Moran as a anti-semite, but I am going to recognize that he's damaged goods. There seems to be all sorts of zaniness of the unwanted kind following him around.

Moran is no Trent Lott, but for moral high ground against future Trent Lotts we need to absolutely unforgiving here on the non-GOP side of the fence. And speaking from a strictly strategic standpoint, there are plenty of good candidates that Dean can find time to support. Like it or not, Dean's public draw is inextricable with the DFA movement, so any choice he now makes will reflect on the organization as a whole. Even if he owes Jim Moran big time for something (and I personally doubt this), there's a larger goal of restoring our small-d democracy at stake. Moran is not worth it.

 

Dean column: Electronic voting http://www.caglecartoons.com/previewColumn.asp?columnID={273227AD-5ED7-48B4-9BDD-5230A44AB6A5}

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 01, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Dean's first column is up, and his topic of choice is the danger of electronic vote hijinks:

Only since 2000 have touch screen voting machines become widely used and yet they have already caused widespread controversy due to their unreliability. For instance, in Wake County, N.C. in 2002, 436 votes were lost as a result of bad software. Hinds County, Miss. had to re-run an election because the machines had so many problems that the will of the voters could not be determined. According to local election officials in Fairfax County, Va., a recent election resulted in one in 100 votes being lost. Many states, such as New Hampshire and most recently Maine, have banned paperless touch screen voting and many more are considering doing so.

Without any accountability or transparency, even if these machines work, we cannot check whether they are in fact working reliably. The American public should not tolerate the use of paperless e-voting machines until at least the 2006 election, allowing time to prevent ongoing errors and failures with the technology. One way or another, every voter should be able to check that an accurate paper record has been made of their vote before it is recorded.


Note that DFA has also been pushing the Diebold issue - I think that we can expect more synchronization between Dean's columns and the o-blog for future installments.

Monday, May 31, 2004

 

Deanlink data update

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, May 31, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
The campaign definitely did NOT authorize the use of the data on Deanlink by any third party. I was personally contacted by three former staffers who gave me their word.

So how did the data get to Plink? As several commentators pointed out, the DeanLink data was stored in public FOAF (RDF / XML) files on the web. As a result, a well-designed spider could crawl through DeanLink and extract the information. I had thought that these feeds were locked behind a registration barrier, but apparently the feeds were designed to be read publicly. The feeds are still active - check out this example.

Some people expressed concern that other data might also have been sold, such as one who starte getting Kerry solicitations without asking for it. Rest assured that the Kerry campaign is using mailing lists also compiled from public sources, and this isn't an issue. I myself have received Nader and even Bush mailings, which is kind of funny. However, it's entirely possible that email adresses were not protected, which would be typical beaior but not alarming.

Overall I am satisfied and relieved that the campaign did not actively sell private data. However I had assumed that Deanlink data was indeed private, and when I registered there was no indication in their privacy statement that I was putting myself on an open database accessible by unprotected feeds. At the very least, DFA had a duty to share the details of how Deanlink operated with more transparency so this kind of rude surprise would not have occurred (and there would have been no need for me to question their practices, either).

Hat tip to BenT for most of the links and being patient :)

Sunday, May 30, 2004

 

Bob Faust for Congress

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, May 30, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Bob Faust is running for Congress in CO-4. Here are some of his issues:


"Faust Health Care Plan" is a basic foundation for a National Preventive Health Care Program that will ensure ALL Americans have health care coverage

the Equal Rights Amendment should be "given new life" and expanded from addressing only gender - to include race, ethnicity, age, nationality, religion, heritage, and sexual orientation.

Our government must not only be fiscally responsible in its taxing and spending, it must also assure all people are called upon to contribute in a manner that is consistent with the principles of equality and impartiality.


Faust is a Republican. I've long argued that a progressive agenda is completely consistent with conservative values - for example, nationalized health care (if done properly) can be a huge relief to small businesses and provide for job growth, by removing the burden of benefits from their shoulders. Faust is doing hard work in trying to stake a position on these issues within the bounds of conservatism and it's a thanksless task for which he no doubt is labeled a RINO by his party peers.

The challenge to us who believed in Howard Dean's vision of a single, united America is to look past the (R) after Faust's name and recognize a kindred spirit. You can't build a bridge without an opposite side to reach towards.

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.